Printable Version
Pronunciation: ê-pro-pri-êt; ê-pro-pri-ayt Hear it!

Part of Speech: Adjective, Verb

Meaning: 1. (Adjective: [êpropri-êt]) Suitable for a particular situation or purpose. 2. (Verb: [êpropri-ayt]) To take something for yourself, as to appropriate a newspaper from a friend. 3. (Verb: [êpropri-ayt]) To allocate or set aside for a particular purpose, as to appropriate funds for schools.

Notes: English has several adjective-verb pairs like today's word, distinguished by the reduction or nonreduction of the final syllable: consummate (mêt) : consummate (mayt), articulate (lêt) : articulate (layt) are two more. The noun for the adjective side of today's word is appropriateness, while the noun for both senses of the verbal side is appropriation.

In Play: One way of chiding our children when they take a sibling's toys is to say something like this: "It isn't appropriate for you to appropriate your sister's (or brother's) toys like that!" You might tell your congressman: "I find the failure to appropriate sufficient funds for education highly inappropriate."

Word History: Today's Good Word was made from Late Latin appropriatus, the past participle of appropriare "to make one's own". This verb comprises ad "(up)to" + proprius "one's own". Proprius, the origin of English proper and propriety, is made up of pro- "for" + privus "one, single, individual". Proprius underlies proprietas, which went into the making of several English words, borrowed from Latin, referring to individuality or ownership, such as property and proprietor. Privus is the ultimate source of English privy and private. All of these words somehow incorporate the senses of "individual" and "ownership". (I think it appropriate at this point to thank Joakim Larsson of Sweden for suggesting today's two Good Words.)

Dr. Goodword,

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